Victorian government offers state funeral for ‘legend’ Ron Barassi

Australia World

The Victorian government has offered Ron Barassi’s family a state funeral to honour the Australian sporting icon.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the gesture will be made after Barassi died on Saturday, aged 87.

Andrews joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the AFL community in paying tribute to Barassi.

He also noted that Barassi died the day after a hard-fought semifinal between Carlton and Melbourne, two of the four clubs where the player and coach is revered for his contribution.

“The word legend is used a lot. But nobody deserves it quite like Ron Barassi,” Mr Andrews said in a social media post.

“He didn’t just play the game — he reshaped it.

“And how fitting that (Friday) night’s game was a cliffhanger between the Dees and the Blues.

“The government will offer Ron’s family a state funeral to remember him — and I hope they accept.”

Players and fans gave Barassi a standing ovation at Adelaide Oval and there was a short period of silence before Saturday night’s Power-Giants semifinal.

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Barassi played 253 senior VFL matches in his career, including 204 for Melbourne and 49 for Carlton.

Between playing and coaching, Barassi claimed 10 premierships at Melbourne, Carlton and North Melbourne.

Only fellow Demons great Norm Smith, who coached Barassi, has as many flags in his playing and coaching career.

A Melbourne VFL star, Ron Barassi, is pictured grimacing in mid-air as he kicks the ball downfield while defenders chase him.

Barassi first starred for Melbourne, winning six premierships as a player with the club.(Getty Images)

Barassi played in six Melbourne premierships and reinvented the playing role of ruck-rover.

Brian Dixon, who played alongside Barassi in five of Melbourne’s grand final victories, described his former teammate as a “fantastic human being”.

“He was just tremendous in every aspect of the football game and of his own contribution to the community was enormous,” Dixon told ABC Radio.

“He was a wonderful friend of Norman Smith, they were like father and son. If people want to praise what Norman Smith did for Melbourne, Ron Barassi was his co-contributor.

“He was just an outstanding individual in so many respects … he was a beautiful, beautiful person and he gave of himself unstintingly.

“He was so good to me. I passed through some difficult times in my life and Ron was always there to help and guide me.”

Barassi stunned the game by leaving Melbourne for Carlton after the 1964 season. Until Barassi made the move, players rarely changed clubs.

His decision is regarded as the moment when the then-VFL left its amateur origins.

Barassi coached Carlton to two premierships, with the 1970 grand final win over Collingwood considered one of the greatest season deciders.

His half-time instructions for Blues players to handball at any cost is part of Australian rules folklore.

He coached North Melbourne to its first premierships in 1975 and 1977 and returned to Melbourne as coach in the 1980s, without success.

Barassi was lured out of retirement to coach Sydney in 1993 when the club was on its knees and he laid some of the groundwork for the Swans’ grand final appearance under Rodney Eade in 1996.